Back in 2008, Obama won Virginia; the first time since 1964 that a Democrat won the Old Dominion. Another election is around the corner and I've always thought it was going to be a challenging state, but more and more everyday, I'm believing it has a great chance of going red again. While I'm not yet willing to guarantee it, like I have with Florida, North Carolina and Indiana, the guarantee could get closer.
Looking at the results from 2008, Barack Obama won Virginia by 6 points. His strong areas were the Northern Virginia suburban counties, as well as Arlington and Alexandria. He also performed well in the Richmond and Hampton Roads suburbs, as well as in some of the college areas surrounding the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
After seeing some of the polls that matter, I believe Virginia is more winnable than previously thought. If Mitt wants to put it firmly in the red column, he and his campaign have to look at specific voters and regions for this to occur.
- Military voters: Of all the states, Virginia has the 2nd highest population of military voters at about 130,000. Romney has begun to target them directly and with the current approval ratings among the military he holds, he looks to get the majority of them. The one item the campaign should be most concerned with is making sure these brave Americans get their ballots in on time, considering the Obama Administration's efforts to suppress their votes in other states. When looking at the victories Obama had in Hampton Roads counties, where a large majority of military voters live, many of them were close victories and in 2012, these voters are likely to push Romney over the edge, netting him the necessary votes needed to be more readily able to compete in Northern Virginia. Furthermore, military votes in Northern Virginia will be of a great help to Romney, who must improve upon McCain's numbers in this region.
- Suburban Richmond/Hampton Roads: While the inner city, urban areas (Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk) are reliably Democrat votes, the suburbs are Republican, however, in 2008, some counties in this area either were Obama victories (Henrico, Chesapeake) or McCain victories by a slimmer than normal margin (Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Virginia Beach). In these suburban Counties, Romney must push the percentages to the upper 50s or low 60s to better compete in the state. The military vote can help in this, as could targeting voters who own businesses and families who don't want be hit with higher taxes, as well as have the National Debt saddled on their children and grandchildren. Win here and it makes competing in Northern Virginia less daunting.
- DC Metro Area: In recent years, not only has this region (Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties, as well as Arlington and Alexandria) become the most populated in the state, it has also grown into the strongest Democrat area. It was key in helping Jim Webb win the Senate in 2006 and Barack Obama winning the presidency in 2008; gaining majorities close to and over 60%. Combine those Democrat majorities and a high percentage of Federal civilian government workers, this is the most challenging region in the Old Dominion. Bob McDonnell made inroads in 2009, in his gubernatorial election, therefore, his people must closely work with Romney's people to see areas where he can target to get the most votes. Romney has the best chance to gain votes in Loudoun and Prince William Counties, where Obama's vote tally was much closer to 50%; as opposed to Fairfax (60%) and Arlington/Alexandria (71%). The campaign has made frequent visits to this region, so it is evident they are paying attention to and focusing on it. We shall see if this gets votes in November.
- Utilize Bob McDonnell and George Allen: Governor Bob McDonnell has been doing a stellar job holding the executive position in Virginia, has pushed for job creation and has helped to cut and keep taxes down. He is popular, has been the first individual to win a statewide election since George Allen and will get attention wherever he goes. For a while, he was on the VP short list. It is a good thing to see the Romney campaign frequently utilizing him on the campaign trail. Even after he was voted out of office by a close margin, after being wronged by the media in light of the phony outrage over an unknown word, George Allen is still a popular figure in Virginia and is running in a campaign himself. Not only will his presence on Romney's campaign trail, help him to make Virginia Red, Romney will help Allen to defeat former and leftist, Tim Kaine, regaining his seat back in the Senate.